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Working Papers

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This series reports research activities or interim findings and aim to share ideas and elicit feedback. Future Agricultures publishes approximately six to ten Working Papers per year.

We also support a series of LDPI Working Papers through our involvement in the Land Deal Politics Initiative.



Default Contested Margins, Complex Pathways: The Afar Triangle in the Horn of Africa

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Future Agricultures Working Paper 94
Alan Nicol and Mosope Otulana
June 2014

The ‘Afar Triangle’ straddles Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti in the Horn of Africa. Historically it has been at the centre of state building and contestation between state and society for over a century. The contemporary relevance of this area lies in the overlapping contestations of power, economic development and nationhood that continue to mark the present-​day struggles of the Afar people. Understanding the challenges, dynamics, histories and continuities of this situation can help in providing future support to Afar development – across all three countries, but particularly in Ethiopia where the majority of the Afar live.

The paper traces key social, political and environmental issues and argues that the Afar Triangle, rather than a single contiguous shape, in fact represents many overlapping and contested ‘margins’ which range from areas of contested (political) control to territorial group identity, and from temperature gradients and rainfall isohyets to environmental and agro-​ecological margins. These patterns determine the range and extent of Afar pastoral systems and their interactions with other, often competing, social groups. We identify key interrelationships between these margins and how they affect the security of Afar livelihoods, emphasizing the heterogeneity of experience, but also the major challenges that Afar pastoral systems continue to face.

Default Grazing rights in Namibia’s communal areas: A case study of a local land grabbing dispute…

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Full title: Grazing rights in Namibia’s communal areas: A case study of a local land grabbing dispute in Western Kavango region

Future Agricultures Working Paper 93
Theodor Muduva
June 2014

While conflict and competition over land is a major trend in Africa, and there are allegations of ‘land grabbing’ of large areas of land from local people, usually by foreign companies, other more localised forms of competition over land are less well understood. This paper presents the case of disputes over grazing land between local communities in Northern Namibia and pastoralists/​herders who entered the area and engage in alleged illegal grazing and fencing of communal land for their large herds of cattle. Fencing off of communal land (without authorisation) is forbidden in Namibia by the Communal Land Reform Act.

Default Beyond the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP)? The Political Economy of CAADP Processes in Malawi

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Full title: Beyond the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP)? The Political Economy of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) Processes in Malawi

Future Agricultures Working Paper 92
Blessings Chinsinga
May 2014

This paper examines the political economy of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) process to which Malawi signed up as a way of fundamentally transforming the agricultural sector to eliminate hunger and reduce poverty According to NEPAD (2011), the overarching goal of CAADP is to reconfigure the way agricultural development issues are formulated, policies are generated and debated, investment decisions are implemented and interventions are scrutinised.

The main concern of this paper from a political economy perspective is to examine the nature of stakeholders’ engagement with the CAADP process, given the already impressive growth performance of the agricultural sector in Malawi. The underlying goal was to understand their interests in engaging with the process, the nature of incentives driving them, the strategies employed to advance, promote and defend their interests and the implications thereof on the attainment of the ideals of the CAADP process. This, in turn, shed a great deal of light on whether or not there is any value addition to the country’s agricultural policy processes as a result of engaging in the CAADP process. Taken together, these exercises helped to identify and understand the political, economic and social processes that promote or block pro-​poor change as well as the role of institutions, power and the underlying context for policy processes.

Default Into the fold: what pastoral responses to crisis tell us about the future of pastoralism in the Horn

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Future Agricultures Working Paper 91
Jeremy Lind and Lina Rivera Barrero
May 2014

This paper is concerned with how pastoral livelihoods are likely to evolve in areas of the Horn of Africa where processes of incorporation are intensifying. More than ever before, pastoral areas of the Horn of Africa are coming into the fold of wider economic processes. Expropriations of land and key resources in rangelands for the establishment of private ranches and commercial farms, the expansion of roads, telecommunications, and marketing facilities to promote trade and mobility, and investments in hydrocarbons are some of the ways that pastoral areas are being newly encapsulated into regional and global capitalist development. The connections between pastoral areas and wider national, regional and global processes will intensify and become more systematic, codified (in land use planning and statutory tenure, internal revenue and customs, and veterinary rules and regulations, for example), and otherwise formalised.

Default Review of research and policies for climate change adaptation in the agriculture sector in W Africa

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Future Agricultures Working Paper 90
Edward R. Rhodes, Abdulai Jalloh and Aliou Diouf
May 2014

The agricultural sector in Africa is very vulnerable to climate change and there is need for strong support to research on adaptation to climate change. A desk study on the synthesis of research and policy on climate change in the agricultural sector in West Africa was undertaken as part of the activities of a platform for exchange between researchers and policymakers for adaptation to climate change (AfricaInteract), a project funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and coordinated by the Council for Agricultural Research and Development in West and Central Africa (CORAF/​WECARD). The objective of the review is to enhance the knowledge base and support research-​based policy formulation for climate change adaptation in the smallholder agricultural sector (crops, livestock, pastoral systems and fisheries) in West Africa. Peer reviewed journal papers, peer reviewed reports of CGIAR centres and international organisations, papers published in conference proceedings and consultancy reports were studied. Materials published from 1995 to 2013 were used for the report.

This review was undertaken under the auspices of the AfricaInteract project funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC).

Default Review of research and policies for climate change adaptation in urban areas of West Africa

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Future Agricultures Working Paper 89
Maruf Sanni, Abdulai Jalloh and Aliou Diouf
April 2014

There has been an unprecedented increase in human population and urban development in recent times. The West African sub-​region is no exception. The sub-region’s population is growing at an average annual rate of three percent, and could reach 430m by 2020. Climate change will increase existing urban system challenges in the sub-​region. Against this background, the West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development (CORAF/​WECARD) commissioned a review of literature on climate change impacts and adaptation in urban areas of West Africa. This was with a view to enhancing the knowledge base and to supporting research-​based policy formulation for climate change adaptation in urban areas of West Africa. This review was carried out using peer-​reviewed journals and conference proceedings, grey literature, policy documents, technical reports, relevant government and non-​governmental organisation (NGO) documents and libraries over the past 15 to 20 years.

This review was undertaken under the auspices of the AfricaInteract project funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC).

Default Review of research and policies for climate change adaptation in the health sector in West Africa

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Future Agricultures Working Paper 88
Seydou Doumbia, Abdulai Jalloh, Aliou Diouf
April 2014

The African continent is the most vulnerable region in the world to the impacts of climate change. While there is undisputed evidence that the climate is changing, there is a lot of uncertainty regarding the pace and extent of the impacts on the sub-​regions of Africa. This review is aimed at identifying gaps in research and policymaking for climate change adaptation in the health sector in West Africa. The purpose is to provide information and insights that can be used to bring researchers and policymakers together to improve evidence-​based policymaking that can enhance food security and protect populations vulnerable to the health impacts of climate change.

This report is based on a systematic review of literature on climate change and related health risks, policy and adaptation strategy over the past 15 to 20 years. The search included a broad-​based review of published, peer reviewed and grey literature and interviews. Priority was given to relationships between climate change and health risks and vulnerability in West African countries, with a focus on Ghana, Senegal and Nigeria.

This review was undertaken under the auspices of the AfricaInteract project funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC).

Default The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) Process in Burkina Faso…

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Full title: The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) Process in Burkina Faso: From False Start to Restart Towards Rural Development?

Working Paper 85
Augustin Loada

This report is about the adoption of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) by Burkina Faso, and tries to assess if it was a simple means of refreshing the country’s agricultural policies or a starting point towards a new rural development policy.

The current research aims at analysing the implementation of the objectives set at Maputo in Burkina Faso, how the CAADP process was rolled out, and the results. The report starts by analysing the existence of political incentives that made possible a number of initiatives for rural development launched by relatively weak institutions. It then shows how Burkina Faso adhered to the CAADP process whose implementation was characterised by an impasse before it restarted through the formulation of a National Programme for the Rural Sector. The report also analyses the driving forces behind this process and identifies the value added springing from the CAADP implementation. Finally we draw lessons for the upcoming agricultural policies. The current case study relies on a document review and discussions with key informants: representatives of donors (Germany, Denmark), decision makers (Permanent Secretary for the Coordination of Sectoral Agriculture Policies), representatives of private sector and civil society.

Default Gender and farming in Ethiopia: an exploration of discourses and implications for policy & research

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Working Paper 84
Asrat Ayalew Gella and Getnet Tadele

There is growing realisation that gender matters in African agriculture. However, a comprehensive and properly contextualised analysis of the nature of gender and gender relations as well as the way it comes into play in agriculture is lacking in much of the scholarly and policy debate surrounding the issue. The positioning of men and women in relation to farming, the spaces they are and are not allowed to occupy, the embodied nature of agricultural activities, and their implications to the future of African agriculture and rural youth are among the issues which have attracted little attention thus far. In this paper, we explore the utility of these issues in understanding gender issues within the context of small scale family farming in Ethiopia. Based on two qualitative studies of three rural farming villages and the existing literature, we explore the cultural and highly symbolic construction of ‘the farmer’ as an essentially masculine subject in Ethiopia, and reflect on the reasons behind the continued persistence of this construction and its implications for policy and further research.

We argue that, due to its likely origin and long history of use in the region, the plough occupies a pivotal and privileged place in the history of farming in Ethiopia. Its practical and symbolic importance and its placement in the exclusive domain of men have resulted in the construction of a particularly male centric notion of what it means to be a farmer and who can be considered one. Although it has been argued that men have certain physical advantages that explain this male centric dominance, we suggest that notions of embodiment have better explanatory power since there appear to be important differences in the way men’s and women’s bodies are perceived in relation to farming implements and activities, on the basis of which narratives of what they can and cannot do are constructed. We discuss the implications of this highly gendered construction for the entry routes of young men and women into farming and their relative positioning afterwards. Finally, we reflect on the implications of our findings for current policy and suggest directions for further policy debate and research.

Default Becoming a young farmer in Ethiopia: Processes and challenges

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Working Paper 83
Getnet Tadele and Asrat Ayalew Gella

The Ethiopian government’s Agricultural Development Led Industrialization strategy emphasises the instrumental role that rural youth could play in transforming the agricultural sector. However, there exists a significant body of literature documenting the unfavourable attitudes many young people hold towards a future in agriculture. Despite their negative attitudes, the fact remains that many rural youth are likely to adopt farming as their principal or only means of livelihood, either by choice or the lack of other options. Rural youth encounter a number of insurmountable problems when they set out to be farmers. Other than attitudinal issues, the many difficulties that young people in Ethiopia have to traverse in the process of becoming a farmer, even when they are willing to be one, have not been adequately explored. Drawing from two different qualitative studies of rural youth in three farming communities in the Amhara and SNNP regions, this paper explores the process(es) through which rural youth enter into and become farmers, and the challenges and opportunities they come across in this transition. Focus group discussions and in-​depth interviews with different groups of rural youth as well as older farmers and key informant interviews with different stakeholders were conducted in 2011 and 2012.

Overall, our findings show that education, access to land, asset base, gender and local context are important factors which significantly affect who becomes a farmer and who does not. Our findings particularly draw attention to the influence of education and gender. The impact of being educated, both in terms of its effect on the desirability of a future in farming as well as complicating later entry into farming, is one that needs to be recognised by policymakers. The role of gender in young men’s and women’s choice to become farmers, the routes they take to becoming farmers and the lives they lead as farmers is also a key area for further research and policy dialogue. Finally, facilitating meaningful access to land for rural youth along with the expansion of both on-​farm and off-​farm livelihood opportunities in the agri-​food continuum is another area which needs to be addressed urgently.

Default Cautious commercialisation. Findings from village studies in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi and…

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Full title: Cautious commercialisation. Findings from village studies in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi & Tanzania

Working Paper 82
Steve Wiggins, Gem Argwings-​Kodhek, Samuel Gebreselassie, Samuel Asuming-​Brempong, Ephraim Chirwa, Mirriam Muhome Matita, Ntengua Mode & Khamaldin Mutabazi

Commercialisation can be central to agricultural development, with the promise of contributing to economic growth, with the reduction of poverty and hunger. Africa has seen many episodes of more commercial smallholder farming, from the export crop booms in West Africa of the late nineteenth century to more recent spurts in production of food for domestic markets. Unfortunately such episodes have not been more widespread, nor in some cases have they been sustained.

This paper looks at experience of commercialisation in selected parts of Africa in the late 2000s, to shed light on key questions asked about the process, including:

  • How do farmers commercialise, which small farmers commercialise and to what extent, and what are the drivers of change?
  • What are the benefits of commercialisation, both directly to farmers, as well as indirectly to those who may benefit from linkages in the rural economy that create additional jobs?
  • Are there drawbacks? For example, in reduced food security as cash crops replace food production, increased inequality, further disadvantage to female farmers, higher risks to vulnerable smallholders or harm to the environment?
  • What policies and programmes lead to commercialisation with desirable outcomes? What should be the role of governments, donors who assist them, private enterprise and civil society in promoting favourable commercialisation?

Default Changing elderly & changing youth: Knowledge exchange & labour allocation in southern Guinea-​Bissau

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Full title: Changing elderly and changing youth: Knowledge exchange and labour allocation in a village of southern Guinea-​Bissau

Working Paper 81
Joana Sousa, Ansomane Dabo and Ana Luisa Luz

The Nalu people in Cablola, a small village in southern Guinea-​Bissau, practice a mixed farming system that includes upland farms, mangrove rice fields and orchards. People produce a wide array of crops for the purchase of rice, which is the main staple food. Currently in Guinea-​Bissau the cashew nut is the main cash crop, which is extensively sold and/​or bartered for rice for household consumption. Even though local people experience rice scarcity.

In villages nearby to Cablola, many Balanta people are devoted to mangrove rice farming and are experts on this farming system, which requires considerable knowledge, skill and labour. Mangrove rice farming produces higher yields than upland rice farming, and although there was some production recovery recently, mangrove rice production has been largely abandoned in the region. In 2010, the youngsters in Cablola founded an association, known as Youngsters Unite. The recovery of mangrove rice farming, and particularly the role of the association in this work, has been challenging old and present-​day leaderships, (re)negotiating relationships and trust, and promoting knowledge exchange between both elders and youngsters and between the Balanta and the Nalu people. The association, within its social context, has boosted the ‘courage’, as farmers say, needed to build a dyke with mud and hand plough.

Default Graduation from the Food Security Programme in Ethiopia: FAC Ethiopia Final Report

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Working Paper 80
Stephen Devereux, Rachel Sabates-​Wheeler, Mulugeta Tefera Taye, Ricardo Sabates and Feyera Sima

The Government of Ethiopia launched the Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP) in 2005. The overarching objective of the FSP was to break Ethiopia’s chronic dependence on annual emergency appeals for humanitarian assistance, by providing structured support to food insecure households over an extended period. The initial expectation was that the numbers of PSNP participants would fall over time as households achieved food security and no longer needed programme support. In reality, the numbers increased due to several shocks that increased food insecurity in rural Ethiopia, such as food price spikes and rain failures. This highlights the challenge of ‘graduating’ households out of chronic food insecurity in a fragile agro-​ecological context characterised by dependence on rain-​fed agriculture but with highly variable rainfall.

This study aims to add to the understanding of how graduation is happening in Ethiopia through the Food Security Programme. The specific objectives of this study are:

  • To explore how graduation is conceptualised and operationalised in Ethiopia’s Food Security Programme, from the perspective of both programme administrators and programme participants.
  • To analyse the range of factors that ‘enable’ and ‘constrain’ graduation at different levels, from programme design and implementation to participants’ or beneficiaries’ characteristics, to contextual factors such as market access and climate variability.
  • To draw lessons for good practice and recommendations for improved graduation outcomes, from suggestions made by programme administrators and participants.

Default Young people, agriculture, and employment in rural Africa

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WIDER Working Paper 2014/​080
James Sumberg, Nana Akua Anyidoho, Michael Chasukwa, Blessings Chinsinga, Jennifer Leavy, Getnet Tadele, Stephen Whitfield, and Joseph Yaro
April 2014

This paper examines the current interest in addressing the problem of young people’s unemployment in Africa through agriculture. Using notions of transitions and mobilities we set out a transformative work and opportunity space framework that privileges difference and diversity among work opportunities, rural areas and young people. We argue that policy and programmes that seek to engage young people with agriculture must be more realistic, rooted in more context-​specific economic and social analysis, and appreciative of the variety of ways that rural men and women use agriculture to serve their needs and interests.

Default Social protection and graduation: Case of heifer-​in-​trust in Burkina Faso

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Working Paper 79
Gountiéni Damien Lankoandé and James Sumberg

March 2014

The distribution of livestock to poor people, commonly known as heifer-​in-​trust (HIT) or ‘livestock-​in-​kind credit’, can be seen as a specific type of asset-​based social protection. Because of their growth and reproductive potential, some suggest that livestock can play a particularly important role in asset accumulation and thus graduation. This study tests the assumption that livestock will remain a part of the asset portfolio of HIT recipients. Beneficiaries of five HIT-​type projects in Burkina Faso were interviewed. The analysis suggests that either because of poor targeting or an appreciation of the demands of livestock keeping, the HIT projects are not reaching the poorest. It also provides only limited support to the assumption that poor people will use the HIT gift to increase their livestock assets. There would appear to be good reason to question the general proposition that livestock are a particularly appropriate asset for transfer to the poor. Because of the demands of livestock – in terms for example of feed, water and management – for the poorest, they may be more of a liability. Understanding the role of asset-​transfer programmes in graduation demands a holistic understanding of asset dynamics, which presents important methodological challenges.

Default Political Economy of Agricultural Policy in Africa: Has CAADP Made a Difference? A Rwanda Case Study


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Future Agricultures Working Paper 78
Frederick Golooba-​Mutebi
February 2014

The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) is an African Union initiative intended to accelerate agricultural growth across Africa and improve food security as well as strengthen the resilience of the continent’s environment. Rwanda has been enthusiastic in its embrace of the initiative, with the government making an effort to fulfil all its obligations. Has CAADP made a difference? This paper argues that it has, and that in this, it has been helped significantly by the government’s own prior ambitions and the centrality of agriculture therein. Section 2 of the paper explores the background against which Rwanda embraced CAADP, showing evolutions in thinking about agriculture among the country’s policy elite and its development partners. Section 2.1 looks at the politico-​social incentives for agricultural policy, while section 2.2 looks at the steps taken to revalorise agriculture once a decision was made that it would be a key component of the foundation on which the country’s wider strategy for pursuing prosperity would rest. The post-​war political settlement has been important in providing the necessary stability without which the pursuit of development is impossible. Section 2.3 examines the contours of the settlement, while section 3 tells the story of how CAADP in Rwanda unfolded. Section 3.1 highlights the critical role of donors whose efforts have been supplemented by those of non-​donor actors, including the business community and farmers’ groups, both of which are explored in sections 3.2 and 3.3. Section 4 highlights the limited but still important regional dimension of the CAADP process, while section 5 assesses the overall significance of CAADP in cementing the central role of agriculture in Rwanda’s pursuit of economic development and prosperity, before section 6 wraps up the story.

Default The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP): Political Incentives, Value…

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Full title: The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP): Political Incentives, Value Added and Ways Forward

Future Agricultures Working Paper 77
Colin Poulton, Kassahun Berhanu, Blessings Chinsinga, Brian Cooksey, Frederick Golooba-​Mutebi and Augustin Loada
February 2014

It is now ten years since African Heads of State made their declaration in support of the continent’s agricultural sector in Maputo in July 2003. This paper contributes to a small but growing body of independent critical analysis of CAADP, and to debates on future directions for the programme. The paper draws on studies of CAADP engagement in six countries (Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Rwanda and Tanzania) plus preliminary reflections on two more (Kenya and Mozambique). Its particular contribution is to examine CAADP’s interaction with domestic political incentives for support to smallholder agriculture in African countries. Following Poulton 2012, we differentiate countries according to whether the domestic political incentives to invest in smallholder agriculture are strong or weak. In the former, the key question for CAADP is what value it can add to existing policy and planning frameworks for the agriculture sector. In the latter, which are more numerous, the key question is whether the CAADP process contains any mechanisms or provisions that can significantly change the incentives perceived by the governments in question. Experience to date is reviewed and ways forward for CAADP’s second decade are suggested.

Default Narratives of scarcity: understanding the ‘global resource grab’


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Future Agricultures Working Paper 76
Ian Scoones, Rebecca Smalley, Ruth Hall and Dzodzi Tsikata
February 2014

Global resource scarcity has become a central policy concern, with predictions of rising populations, natural resource depletion and hunger. Resulting narratives of scarcity drive behaviour and justify actions to harness resources considered ‘under-​utilised’, leading to contestations over rights and entitlements and producing new scarcities. Yet scarcity is contingent, contextual and above all political. We present an analysis of three framings – absolute scarcity, relative scarcity and political scarcity – associated with the intellectual traditions of Malthus, Ricardo and Marx, respectively. A review of 134 global and Africa-​specific policy and related sources produced over the past six years demonstrates how diverse framings of scarcity – what it is, its causes and what is to be done – are evident in competing narratives that animate debates about the future of food and farming in Africa and globally. We argue that current mainstream narratives emphasise absolute and relative scarcity, while ignoring political scarcity. We suggest a more political framing of scarcity requires paying attention to how resources are distributed between different needs and uses, and so different people and social classes. This requires, we argue, a policy emphasis for land and resource issues on rights and access, and distributional issues, centred on equity and justice.

Default Jostling for Trade: The Politics of Livestock Marketing on the Ethiopia-​Somaliland Border

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Future Agricultures Working Paper 75
Abdurehman Eid
February 2014

Cross-​border livestock trade (CBLT) is an important livelihood activity for many pastoral and agro-​pastoral communities in the Horn of Africa. The trade has developed into an informal industry supporting many stakeholders along the value chain: livestock-​keepers, fodder suppliers, ranch owners, itinerant traders, large livestock traders and transporters. This paper examines the CBLT spanning the border between Somali Region of Ethiopia and Somaliland. Specifically, it considers policies and controls shaping the dynamics of the trade in recent years. The study also highlights the competition that Somaliland and Djibouti have found themselves in to become the livestock export hub in the Horn of Africa, as well as clan dynamics.

Default What difference has CAADP made to Tanzanian agriculture?

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Future Agricultures Working Paper 74
Brian Cooksey
November 2013

This paper examines the impact of the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) on Tanzania’s agricultural sector. It discusses how CAADP relates to national and regional policy initiatives (including the country’s Agriculture and Food Security Investment Plan, the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania, and the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition) and their governance; the possible impacts of CAADP on spending on agriculture in the country; and the extent of the influence and inclusion of civil society organisations on agricultural policy processes.